The Times vs. Tesla: A no-decision bout
Elon Musk said the Times’ reviewer “changed the facts” to fit his opinion of EVs.
So was Tesla wronged by that New York Times review of the Model S that detailed how the electric car ran out of juice in the middle of a test drive?
Things got so hot over the cold-weather test that the paper asked its "public editor," Margaret Sullivan, to pass judgment. Her verdict: Times auto critic John Broder took lousy notes that left him open to valid criticism.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk had gone further, alleging Broder had "changed the facts" when they didn't suit his opinion of EVs. But after Sullivan's mea-kinda-culpa, Musk tweeted that his faith in the Times was "restored."
The drive between two new Tesla charging stations in Newark, Del., and Milford, Conn., has been under scrutiny since the review was published this month. Musk questioned Broder's motives with a series of graphs, derived from Tesla's digitally recorded driving logs, that detailed speed, battery charge and distance on the trip.
Broder said Tesla didn't "provide detailed instructions on maximizing the driving range, the impact of cold weather on battery strength or how to get the most out of the" charging stations.
Sullivan wrote that she doesn't believe Broder went into the 200-mile test drive wanting something bad to happen to get a more interesting story. But she said Broder showed poor judgment that was "instrumental in this saga's high-drama ending." And she said his "casual" notes were no match for Tesla's digital monitoring data, which she said that Musk used in the "most damaging" and "sometimes quite misleading" ways possible.
For Tesla's fans and fault-finders it's not clear that Sullivan settled the debate. Her parting words: "There is still plenty to argue about and few conclusions that are unassailable."